Restaurants, Italian Lincoln Park
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
37 Love It
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Photograph: Erica Gannett

Between the warmth of the room and the compelling simplicity of Chris Pandel’s food, there is something especially comfortable about Balena, a collaboration between the Bristol and the BOKA Restaurant Group. Settle in with a few amaro cocktails (our pick: the Montenegro), share a pizza (mortadella with chili oil), don’t miss the smoked mackerel or gorgeous tagliolini nero, an uni, crab and chile pasta, and wrap things up with the tiramisu (a light and sophisticated take on the staple). Finally, fall asleep on a banquette. With any luck, nobody will wake you up.

By: Amy Cavanaugh


Venue name: Balena
Address: 1633 N Halsted St
Opening hours: Dinner
Transport: El stop: Red to North/Clybourn. Bus: 8, 9, 72, 132.
Price: Average main course: $22
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
Jill F

A fun place for family dinners and date nights, Balena is especially cute during the holidays with its Christmas tree centerpiece. I went here for an anniversary dinner, and we really enjoyed ourselves. The seasonal cocktails and pastas were my favorite. I loved my bourbon vanilla cocktail with spiced pear, and the pumpkin pasta with pancetta and cookie crumbles was incredible. We also split a fennel sausage pizza of nice size, which came with a spicy pepper sauce to drizzle on top. 

Madeline N

I went here last week with my parents and it was great! Their pasta is perfect and their pizza choices are great. The service was a bit slow, but I would definitely go again!

sara f

They have the best meatballs! Love the twinkly lighting in this restaurant, it is perfect for date night.